Els on the course, Spieth set to start Masters' 2nd round
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) 7:17 p.m.
Jordan Spieth will go to the third round of the Masters with a five-stroke lead, matching the largest 36-hole advantage in tournament history.
Spieth set the record for lowest score midway through the tournament, a 14-under 130.
The 21-year-old Texan will play in the last group Saturday with Charley Hoffman, who is at 135.
Some big names climbed up the leaderboard late in the second round Friday, including Dustin Johnson (who had three eagles) and Phil Mickelson.
But they've got a lot of work to do.
Johnson is seven shots back at 137, joined by Justin Rose and Paul Casey. Mickelson played the back nine at 4 under for a 68, which gave him a glimmer of hope going to the weekend but still facing a daunting eight-stroke deficit.
History is working against everyone except Spieth.
Herman Keiser in 1946, Jack Nicklaus in 1975 and Raymond Floyd in 1976 all had five-shot leads going to the weekend.
All three went into on to capture the green jacket.
At the moment, Spieth doesn't have to worry about the world's top-ranked player.
Rory McIlroy arrived at Augusta trying to complete a career Grand Slam, but it looked like he might miss the cut when he shot 40 on the front side Friday. He battled back after the turn, shooting a brilliant 31 for his second straight 71.
Still, McIlroy was 12 shots off the lead.
''I wish I didn't need to play a back nine like that to get to 2 under for the tournament,'' he said. ''But I'm really proud of myself the way I fought back. To shoot 5 under on the back nine is a good effort. I need four more nines like that to have a chance.''
Farewell, Gentle Ben.
Ben Crenshaw closed out his Masters career with two rounds he would prefer to forget, but a lifetime of memories from his 44 appearances at Augusta National.
Crenshaw, a two-time Masters champion, was greeted by his longtime caddie, Carl Jackson, when he came off the green for the final time after making another bogey at the 18th hole.
Jackson wasn't in good enough health to carry the clubs for 36 holes, so he turned over the duties to his younger brother Bud, a longtime caddie at Augusta National. But Carl donned the white coveralls, with Crenshaw's name on the back, and walked slowly on the green to hug the golfer after he tapped out for a 13-over 85.
The 63-year-old Crenshaw finished last in the field with a 176 - 32 over par.
Defending Masters champion Bubba Watson, having just finished his round about a half-hour earlier, was among those who came out to watch Crenshaw close out his playing career. His wife, three daughters, and other family members were also there for the emotional scene.
Dustin Johnson earned his place in Masters lore by becoming the first player to make three eagles in one round.
Johnson scored eagles Friday on three of the par-5s: the second, eighth and 15th holes. He made a birdie on the other, the 13th, which left him with a 5-under 67 and still within reach of the leader, Jordan Spieth.
Johnson is seven strokes behind with a 7-under 137 at the halfway point.
''I feel good,'' Johnson said. ''We've still got 36 holes of golf left. I'm playing really well. I'm making a lot of birdies. I need to limit the mistakes.''
Those mistakes - most notably, a double-bogey 6 at the first hole, after a drive in the middle of the fairway - kept Johnson from posting an even lower score.
The Grand Slam club won't have to worry about making room for a new member.
Not this week, anyway.
Rory McIlroy arrived at Augusta National hoping to become only the sixth player in the modern era to win all four of golf's biggest events.
He was already in trouble after Day 1, shooting a 1-under 71 that left him seven shots off the lead. By the time McIlroy teed off Friday, he was facing a double-digit deficit to the leader, Jordan Spieth.
Playing like he knew he had no chance, McIlroy made three bogeys and a double-bogey on the way to a 4-over 40 on the front side. At that point, he was trailing Spieth by a staggering 17 strokes. His focus turned to playing well enough on the back side to at least make the cut and hang around for the weekend.
As for the career Grand Slam, that will have to wait until next year at Augusta.
With McIlroy's pursuit on hold, the Grand Slam focus turns back to Phil Mickelson. He, too, is missing only one title from his resume - the next one on the schedule, the U.S. Open in June.
For now, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen are the only players to win the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. Bobby Jones captured a previous version of the Slam in 1930: U.S. Open, British Open, U.S. Amateur and British Amateur.
Tom Watson had hoped to set a Masters record by making the cut at age 65.
So much for that plan.
After opening with a promising 1-under 71, Watson ballooned to an 81 on Friday, one of the worst rounds of his long Augusta career. He finished up with a triple-bogey 7 at the final hole.
Also missing the cut was 55-year-old Fred Couples, who shares a Masters record of playing on the weekend in 23 consecutive appearances. He's heading home with a 9-over 153 total.
Couples tied Gary Player's record by making the cut every year from 1983-2007 (not counting a couple of years when Couples didn't play at all). After missing the cut in both 2008 and `09, he seemed to find the fountain of youth in his early 50s, finishing sixth in 2010 and in the top 20 each of the last four years.
But Couples didn't have a chance to extend his latest streak after shooting 79 on Thursday - his worst showing at Augusta since a third-round 81 in 1983. He finished up with a 74 on Friday, including a bogey at the 12th after he dunked his tee shot in Rae's Creek.
The news wasn't all bad for the over-50 crowd.
Mark O'Meara, at 58, made it to the weekend for the first time since 2005 by shooting 68 on Friday.
''I probably hit the ball as far now as I did when I played in my time,'' he said. ''You play for your pride, too. I understand I'm 58, but I still have my health and I can still hit some quality golf shots out there.''
It's rare that Tiger Woods would shoot a 69 at the Masters - with hardly anyone noticing.
That's what happened Friday, when Woods took another impressive step in his latest comeback with a 3 under that assured he'll be back for the weekend at Augusta National - just like he has every year of his pro career.
Looking more and more confident, Woods had four birdies and stumbled only once with a bogey at the par-3 sixth hole. It was a marked improvement on his opening 73, and he looked like an entirely different player than the one who walked off the course at Torrey Pines two months ago, his body hurting and his game a mess.
''I'm very proud of what I've done, to be able to dig out of it the way I have,'' Woods said. ''I was at a pretty low (point) in my career, and to basically change an entire pattern like that and put it together and put it in a position where I can compete in a major championship like this is something I'm very proud of.''
The way Jordan Spieth is playing, Woods will likely be nothing more than an afterthought on the weekend. He goes to the third round a dozen shots off the lead.
Still, it's a big step for Woods in his quest to break a nearly seven-year drought since he won the last of his 14 major championships.
And, of course, he'll never concede that he's out of a tournament.
''I'm still right there,'' Woods said. ''I'm 12 back, and there's not a lot of guys ahead of me. And with 36 holes here to go, anything can happen.''
Charley Hoffman isn't conceding anything at the Masters.
Even though Jordan Spieth will take a five-shot lead to the weekend, Hoffman said Friday he won't change his approach after posting his second straight round in the 60s. He's at 9-under 135, a score that would've given him at least a tie for the 36-hole lead eight of the last 10 years.
Not this year. Spieth is at 130, the lowest score in Masters history at the midway point.
''It's this year. It's not any other year,'' Hoffman said with a shrug, not sounding the least bit concerned. ''We've only played 36 holes. We've got a lot of golf left.''
Hoffman had a chance at a bogey-free round until he took 5 at the final hole.
Still, it was a surprising performance by a journeyman golfer once known more for his flowing, bleached mullet.
This is only the second time Hoffman has qualified for the Masters. Unless someone makes a late charge, he'll be playing in the final group Saturday with Spieth.
''I just kept to my game plan, kept trying to make birdies,'' Hoffman said. ''You can't press on this golf course too much.''
Hoffman was asked why he cut his hair, which used to be his trademark.
''Well, my hair stopped growing on top like it used to,'' he said, chuckling. ''It wasn't that great a look anymore, to be honest with you.''
His game looks just fine.
The record belongs to Jordan Spieth.
The 21-year-old Texan posted the lowest 36-hole score in Masters history, going to the weekend at 14-under 130. That broke the mark of 131, set by Raymond Floyd in 1976.
Spieth shot a 6-under 66 in the second round, essentially blowing away everyone in the field except Charley Hoffman, who is four strokes behind with a couple of holes to play. Normally, that sort of performance would be good enough for the lead.
Not the way Spieth was playing. He had 15 birdies and only one bogey through the first two days.
''I've been kind of on my game and feeling really good about coming to a place that I love, that everybody loves,'' Spieth said. ''It's special to be in the tournament, let alone out front.''
Ernie Els, at 139, was the only other player with a single-digit deficit when Spieth finished his round.
Everyone else was at least 10 shots behind.
Spieth missed a chance for another birdie at the 18th hole, his 7-foot putt sliding past the left side of the cup on the slick Augusta greens. He initially went up to tap it in, standing awkwardly so he wouldn't step in the line of playing partner Henrik Stenson, who still had a short putt of his own.
Then, perhaps realizing how important this little putt was, Spieth backed away, marked his ball and waited for Stenson to finish before knocking his in for the record.
Spieth also tied the major championship record for lowest 36-hole score, matching three others.
Jordan Spieth headed to the 18th hole Friday with a chance at Masters history.
Turning in another brilliant round, Spieth merely needed to make par on the final hole to set a 36-hole scoring record at Augusta National.
The 21-year-old Texan was at 14 under for the tournament, having made 15 birdies and only one bogey over the first two days of the tournament. One more par would give him a 130 heading to the weekend - breaking the mark of 131 set by Raymond Floyd at the 1976 Masters.
The only serious challenger was Charley Hoffman, who ripped off three straight birdies to push his score to 10 under, four shots off the lead.
Ernie Els was the only other player facing less than a double-digit deficit. He was nine shots back at 5-under 139.
Since Jordan Spieth was playing his own tournament, let's see how things were going in the Masters B-flight.
Charley Hoffman was turning in another strong round Friday, making the turn with a 2-under 34 to push his score to 7 under for the tournament. Then he sank two more birdies on the back nine and was at 9 under. He'd be leading, or close to it, in a normal year. Not bad for only his second Augusta appearance, the last coming in 2011.
Ernie Els shot an even-par 72 on the heels of his opening 67, giving him the clubhouse lead (for what it's worth) at 139.
Also, let's give a shout-out to 58-year-old Mark O'Meara, who hasn't made the Masters cut since 2005. He'll be around for the weekend after a 68 Friday left him at 141 through 36 holes.
Louis Oosthuizen (69) and Angel Cabrera (69) were also at 141.
Then there's Fred Couples, who normally plays well at Augusta no matter the state of his game or health.
Not this time. Couples was 11 over after dumping one into Rae's Creek at the 12th hole.
Raymond Floyd's 36-hole Masters scoring record was in big trouble.
Jordan Spieth's birdie at the 13th hole Friday - his fifth of the second round - took his score to 13 under for the tournament. He could par out and tie Floyd's record, a 131 from the 1976 Masters.
Of course, the way Spieth was playing, he seemed likely to make at least one or two more birdies before he headed to the weekend with a commanding lead.
Spieth was six strokes ahead of his nearest challenger, Charley Hoffman. Only four other players were closer than 10 shots.
Players such as Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson are going to be facing huge deficit by the time they tee off Friday.
Tiger Woods was playing well, 3 under for the round after a birdie at the tough 11th hole. But he was a daunting 11 shots behind Spieth.
Over his first 31 holes of the tournament, Spieth had 14 birdies, 16 pars and only one bogey.
So much for the Masters not being decided until the back nine Sunday.
If this keeps up, they can start fitting Jordan Spieth for a green jacket before the weekend.
The 21-year-old Texan is looking to blow away the field, keeping up his dazzling play Friday in the second round at Augusta National. He's already made four birdies through the first 10 holes, pushing his score to a staggering 12-under par and stretching his lead to a commanding five strokes over Charley Hoffman.
No one else was within seven shots of the lead.
Ernie Els summed it up best after Spieth opened with an 8-under 64, just one stroke off the major championship scoring record.
''He's special,'' the Big Easy said. ''Nothing stands out, because he does everything well. He's going to be tough to beat.''
Spieth's main competition seemed to be the record book. He has a shot at Augusta's 36-hole scoring record, a 13-under 131 posted by Raymond Floyd in 1976.
As for Tiger Woods, he's playing well in the second round, his score at 2 under for the day as he approaches the turn.
He looks safe to keep alive his streak of never missing a Masters cut as a professional.
But catching Spieth? That would take a monumental comeback.
The same goes for world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who has a late tee time. In all four of his major titles, he was either leading or right in the mix heading to the weekend. That is unlikely to be the case at this Masters, casting serious doubt on his hopes of completing a career Grand Slam.
Jordan Spieth is 10-under par at the Masters. And it's not even lunchtime Friday.
The 21-year-old Texan stretched his lead to five strokes with an 18-foot birdie putt at the fifth hole. He also birdied the par-5 second after coming up just short of the green with his approach, then chipping up next to the flag for a short birdie putt.
Just as important, Spieth is making all the testy, par-saving putts that can ruin your day at Augusta National. A 4-footer at No. 1. A 6-footer at the third. A 3-footer at the fourth.
Tiger Woods started his day with a birdie at the first, getting back to even par for the tournament.
But he's still a staggering 10 shots off the lead.
Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen is making a move early in the second round at the Masters.
Oosthuizen, who lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson three years ago, birdied the first two holes Friday and added another birdie at No. 5, pushing his score to 3 under for the day and the tournament.
He is now five strokes behind leader Jordan Spieth, who just teed off and made par on the first hole.
Ernie Els has slipped back to 5 under with a bogey at the par-3 fourth. The Big Easy is tied for second, three shots back, with Jason Day, Justin Rose and Charley Hoffman. Sergio Garcia and Russell Henley are both 4 under.
Ernie Els has already cut into Jordan Spieth's lead at the Masters, making a birdie at the second hole to pull within two strokes of the top spot.
On an overcast morning at Augusta National, the South African started play Friday with possible storms in the forecast.
Jordan Spieth tees off in just before 10 a.m. EDT.
Spieth is loosening up in the practice area after opening Thursday with an 8-under 67, which gave him a three-stroke lead on Els, Justin Rose, Jason Day and Charley Hoffman.
Day and Hoffman also have morning tee times. Rose goes off in the early afternoon.
Tiger Woods, nine shots back a 1 over, begins his second round at 10:30. He's trying to avoid missing the Masters cut for the first time in his pro career.
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